Wednesday, August 14, 2013

MiG-21F-13 JRV i PVO

Once again the presented plane was a proud resident of the top secret underground airbase Željava in Bihač, Yugoslavia. From the early sixties  ('62) in the previous century, codenamed L-16 (L stands for "lovac" - "fighter"-hunter literally). By the time they were introduced to Yu AF, they were still receiving US made aircraft, such as an all weather interceptor F-86D.
In constant swinging between the two blocks (east and west) Yugoslavia managed to achieve many  Western hi-tech assets and at the same time obtain at the time "unknown" new MiGs as the first state outside the Soviet Union. That is the reason those planes were top secret material for many years to come.

The pilots had to quickly adapt from the Sabres and Thunderjets to MiG-21's which was a much faster and aerodynamic aircraft with far less cockpit visibility. The early generation of pilots were used to flying in TV-2, T-33, F-84G and F-86E's, so the new MiG was more than a challenge to adapt to. It was easier to switch from Sabre D than E, because of the afterburners used by Sabredogs - 100% thrust on E or 45% thrust on D - same power used for take offs on MiGs. There were also many problems in gear-flight suits and helmets, the early models were very difficult to wear and use.
The two seaters (NL-12) were received years later. It took them quite some time to cope with such machines so the F-86E's from 204 fighter regiment stayed in Batajnica AB until 1965 - a bizarre period where one unit was flying MiGs and Sabres at the same time.
The 204. fighter regiment had three squadrons : 126th, 127th and 128th. Later part of the regiment split to 117th reg. and was re based to Bihač (today BiH) - Željava underground base aka object 505 or Klek. It was one of the largest underground AB's and the biggest construction made in Yugoslavia. It was build under the mount Plješevica and could survive a nuclear attack. It had a net of five underground tunnels leading to an exit covered by large steel door.

                                                       The tunnels inside the mountain.
Entrance to the tunnels cover by steel/concrete doors

The AB was occupied by the time of the Czechoslovakian crisis, so it became home of the pilots and their crews and for a longer period. The planes were equiped with K-13 (AA-2 Atol) missiles - equivalent to the US AIM-9 sidewinder, and the crews on constant alert and signal to take off and engage. 

 K-13 on under wing pylons

Željava early 70s

The L-12 were used for a relatively short period, it could be used as an interceptor only in good weather conditions so it was soon starting to get replaced by MiG-21PFM codenamed L-14 in 1967.
Priština (today's Kosovo) was the L-12's last home until 1979. 
To quote a pilot who remembers his photo fresh of academy in front of a F-86D; It is a very sad memory for me. Half of the men from the photo were killed in MiGs. After Sabredogs we all switched to L-12 and defended the airspace west of 18th meridian. A few of the pilots, mostly Croats and Slovenes who sat in those underground tunnels were chasing Italian F-104 Starfighters over Slovenia. Half of those guys died doing that. That's why it is very difficult for me to accept that today Slovenian airspace is being watched by Italian AF.

revija Obramba: Zgodbe o obrambi neba - Vražji (Slovenski) fantje v letečih strojih

The kit to portray this beautiful machine is the 2012 Trumpeter release. It has some shape issues and lacks some details but overall it's a very good and decent kit.
I did it OOB with Balkan Model decals. It was painted with different shades of alluminium Alclad colors.

Please feel free to comment on anything, feed backs are very appreciated. Thanks for watching.


R.S said...

As splendid as always Vasko!!

A question I have here: Doesn't the F-13 have a parachute nozzle under at the root of the fin? I remember I saw a SyAAF documentary in which an F-13 launched a parachute after landing (but didn't pay attention whether it has a nozzle).

Vasko Ž said...

Thanks a lot R.S.
The chute housing is under the nozzle, on the end of the lower fin. Here's a bette pic:

George Topalovic said...

bravo,izgleda kao pravi.Verovatno znate da je ovaj 541 dosao naknadno maja 1966 jer je 540 izgoreo po pustanju u rad te su Sovjeti poslali nov
pozdrav Djordje

Vasko Ž said...

Hvala na komplimentu Djordje, i na informaciji, nisam znao za incident sa 540, i da je ovaj dodatni...

pozdrav, Vasko

H. said...

Beautiful job and very good introduction to the theme.
I´m currently building a Mig 21 F-13 and a Canadair Sabre, both from Yugo.
The version I´m building of the Sabre is the number 054, a kit that airfix launched at the 1/72 scale. I´m also planing to buy one with the letece Zvezde version by the way.
I´ve tried to make some research about it but I found almost nothing... I bleive that this plane in particular was operated by the 117th while it was based in Batajnica and Zagred but I´m not 100% sure.
Could you give some info about it?
Hvala lepa in advance
Pozdrav iz portugalska

Vasko Ž said...

Thank you, I appreciate your comment.

I'd gladly help you with your CL-13 build. If you leave me your email or some other contact, I'll send you some photos and info.


H. said...

Zivijo Vasko.
I saw that you are from Slovenija. I lived in Ljubljana 1 year, during my erasmus. It was the best year of my life :)

Hvala lepa for your help. My e-mail is:
I also send you my blog:

Pozdrav iz Lisboa